Vanessa Bryant has shared a photograph of her late husband Kobe Bryant wearing a T-shirt bearing the words ‘I can’t breathe’.
The NBA star and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates originally wore the shirts during a game on December 9, 2014, in protest of the death of Eric Garner, a black man from New York City who died after an officer put him in a chokehold.
The photograph of Kobe Bryant, captured before a victorious game for the Lakers against the Sacramento Kings, has taken on additional meaning following the tragic death of George Floyd, who also uttered the words ‘I can’t breathe’ as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.
Sharing the picture to Instagram, Vanessa wrote:
My husband wore this shirt years ago and yet here we are again.#ICANTBREATHE
[…] Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short. Let’s share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people.
Drive out hate. Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER
Vanessa lost both her husband Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna after their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California on January 26. Seven others died in the crash, including the pilot.
Kobe had arranged for almost all his Lakers teammates to wear the shirts, which were also worn by Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Speaking with the at the time of the 2014 match, Kobe said:
I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for.
It’s important that we have our opinions. It’s important that we stand up for what we believe in. We all don’t have to agree with it, and that’s completely fine. That’s what makes this a beautiful country.
They’re really questioning the justice system and questioning the process of the legal system, and those who have authority and whether or not they’re abusing authority, and what’s the threshold to use deadly force and so forth. But that’s what our nation is founded on.
We have the ability to question these things in a peaceful fashion, and that’s what makes us a great country, is we have the ability to voice up. We have the platform to speak up, and we have the platform to affect change.
The death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014, holds strong parallels with the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a tragedy which has sparked protests across the US.